Jon Frickey’s Cat Days is an animated short that isn’t the most inspiring of stories, but is fresh and beautiful in its artistry and design.

When trying to tell an entirely self-contained story in 10 minutes, you can go one of two ways: you dream up a story far too elaborate for the time frame and end up doing it poorly, or you come up with an idea that’s so small, it feels stretched out in this short time window. Unfortunately, Cat Days manages to do the latter, but that doesn’t mean that it should be immediately written off as being a bad film, not by any means.

The short follows the story of a young boy named Jiro who one day finds himself feeling rather unwell. When his father takes him to the doctor’s surgery, it is revealed that Jiro has the cat flu, which can only mean one thing: Jiro is in fact a cat. While they wait for the test results to come back, Jiro visits a cat shelter, suffers with traumatising dreams and plays with a friend in the park. The story is one that tries to be cute and funny but ends up feeling like the wrong kind of funny for a film of this style: instead of being whimsical and cheeky, it errs on the side of stupidity and the delivery of the jokes immediately made the story lose credibility for me. The animation style feels like the story should be child-like and friendly, but the humour and delivery of the jokes feels like that of a Wes Anderson movie and, overall, it just doesn’t work.

But while his plot may be weak, the film’s visual beauty should not be underestimated at all and, if anything, is worth watching for that alone. The style of animation that this film exhibits feels so fresh, simplistic and beautiful that it is a joy to follow and watch. It’s the kind of artistry that you can appreciate in every single frame and I love that about it; it carries its own kind of charm and that redeems the film from its weak plot. I should also probably give the script some better recognition here, too: regardless of what I thought of the story, Frickey has done a fantastic job of pacing this story and really making it feel like a journey of multiple acts. I do, however, think that some moments dragged for longer than I would’ve liked them to and that some were almost completely unnecessary to the plot’s progression.

While Cat Daysis not the most impressive and impactful short film that I have ever seen, I do think it’s one that should be remembered for its style if not anything else. Kudos to Jon Frickey for almost single-handedly crafting ten minutes of animated glory. It’s one thing making ten-minutes of live action film, but to animate ten minutes worth of footage is a huge challenge, especially when you’re doing it alone.

★★★☆☆